Katy’s historic namesake is reappearing as the label of a proposed 1,000-acre master-planned community. Between Hwy. 90 and Morton Road, Rise Development has proposed building Cane Island to include hundreds of homes, multiple parks and space for a Katy ISD elementary school on an 830-acre plot of land formerly owned by the Minze family with additional acres purchased from nearby landowners.
At a workshop in late July, the Nevada-based development firm Rise Development presented its concept for Cane Island to city and planning and zoning officials. If approved by City Council, it will be the city’s first master-planned community in its boundaries and likely spur waves of commercial and retail projects, officials say.
“If we approve this, in the next 10 years it is going to change the face of Katy,” Mayor Fabol Hughes said. “The new Katy will be developed toward the west and north.”
Several steps must be taken before Cane Island could become a reality, including the city of Katy annexing about 400 acres of land from Houston’s extraterritorial jurisdiction into its city limits.
City and Rise Development officials met Aug. 7 to iron out some details regarding the Cane Island project. Rise Development is also requesting a separate planned development district to be created for its project because the city’s current ordinances were not intended for master-planned communities. Rise Development president Dan Naef said the biggest changes Rise Development would like to see include lowering the minimum lot size for communities larger than 100 acres from 55 to 50 feet, and changing the distance between houses from 15 to 10 feet.
The new planned development district will permit the smaller lots and allow development to be set back from the street. Both of these aspects are not permitted under the existing district.
“What we’re going to do is write a separate ordinance that takes care of certain side development,” Hughes said. “Any future developments 800 acres or above will look like this —it’ll be catered to this [Planned Development District].”
Hughes said the city will likely have a final meeting with Rise Development in late August. If the meeting is successful, he said the Planning and Zoning Committee could vote to approve the new development standards at its Aug. 27 meeting, and city council members could vote for final approval as early as the first or second Monday in September.
Hughes said he and other officials will meet with Houston Mayor Annise Parker in the next few months to negotiate the release of land from the Houston ETJ into Katy city limits.
Steve Robinson of Allen Boone Humphries Robinson attorneys, who has handled every ETJ annexation between Houston and Katy for 15 years, said Houston’s inability to provide necessary services—such as law enforcement to the area because of the distance from their facilities—gives Katy an edge in the negotiations.
“Also, [Houston] doesn’t want to bring a piece of property into the city that invites a lawsuit if there is a landowner that did not want them to release the property,” he said.
Katy would then be responsible for providing water and sewer services as well as law enforcement and would have a hand in dictating what is developed on its west side.
“Houston could build factories unless we get that to build houses there,” Councilman Larry Gore said. “To me, getting this ETJ is important and it allows us to expand further if we should want to.”
Cane Island would set the stage for future development in Katy, but Hughes said he is also determined to maintain the small-town feel in Downtown Katy.
“One thing I want people to understand is the city of Katy is open for business,” Hughes said. “We are open to this new development, and we want it here. It’s going to do nothing but help us in bringing sales tax revenue, which will help keep our property taxes low.”
Inside Cane Island
Naef said Cane Island would be created in a way that would honor local history and Katy’s heritage.
The community would be developed in stages, starting with an elaborate, one-mile entry area lined with thousands of trees where residents would drive under a “living wall,” a decorative arch covered in plants and flowers, Naef said. The first phase would also include about 350 homes and a recreation center made up of several buildings.
Although specific home builders would not be determined until the project is approved, homes will likely begin in the upper $200,000s and reach into the upper $800,000s. Lot sizes would range from 50 to 80 feet.
“Most communities have recreation centers, but what’s not typically done, and what we will commit to, is to build the recreation center on day one,” Naef said. “So as soon as the model homes are up, this will be open too.”
Additional reporting by Liza Winkler